Surfing has always been a cult extracurricular activity for salty Gold Coast local kids, but for those who aren’t lucky enough to live right beside the seaside (we’re looking at you Brisbane!), there are still ways you can get your kids into the sport. You never know – you might have the next Mick Fanning, Steph Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons or Joel Parkinson under your roof.
So, where does one go to start surfing? Surf school, of course! There are actually a number of different surf schools between Brisbane and Byron Bay that provide surf programs to children of all ages.
For young children who have a natural talent in the water, surfing training from age five is not out of the question. The Weet-Bix SurfGroms program, run with the support of the Federal Government through the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Surfing Australia, is the entry-level program for kids aged 5-12 years that will help set up young athletes on the right wave. The Weet-Bix SurfGroms program gives passionate children style training, industry insight and experience. The program has five levels built into its learning curriculum, with each level advancing the child closer to competing in tournaments. The SurfGroms website will help you find a local provider.
Although programs such as the Weet-Bix SurfGroms are designed for up and coming professionals, Surfing Australia says that this program is also “a bit of a release for children” and that the sport can often “create a good level of balance for kids that are struggling with school”. Who could doubt the benefits that fresh air, sunshine, sand and sea water provide for the soul? But another beneficial element of surf training is that kids who participate in a program acquire the ability to read and better understand the ocean, making them far more water safety smart – and what parents doesn’t want their child to be water safe?
Outside SurfGroms, there are a host of good surf schools right along the east coast. Surfing Australia has listed the best options in a handy website resource of some 110 affiliated schools – which is the largest network of surf schools nationally. Simply plug in your location and you’ll get a list of your local Surfing Australia-accredited schools. When contemplating a surf school for your kids, keep your eyes peeled for the Surfing Australia Surf Schools logo and you’ll know you are in the best hands.
Surf school spotlight: Currumbin Alley Surf School
The team at Currumbin Alley have a deep passion for surfing – and sharing their skills. The Frothing Grommet program teaches kids aged 5 to 14 everything from paddling to competition-grade maneuvers, over eight weeks during school terms and over five days during holidays.
“The program is designed to be fun, challenging and educational, with kids having the opportunity to progress over the five levels,” says Sam Chilcott, owner and coaching director.
The step-by-step nature of the programs mean that any kid can get their surfing start, and the challenges they must complete to move up in the program keep them constantly progressing.
“The kids also work from a surfing logbook that has take-home questions. We want to make sure they don’t forget what they’ve learned in the lesson that day and really get the most out of the program,” says Sam.
The one-and-a-half hour lessons start with a warm up and short land instruction, before hitting the water for a great surf sesh. A large portion of the program is dedicated to teaching surf safety and awareness to ensure kids know how to recognise possible surf hazards and are well equipped to know what to do in such situations – great lessons that will last them a lifetime.